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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Most people using Amazon won’t browse past the first page of listings for any given search or category. That’s where newly-Arlington-based startup Amify comes in.

Amify doesn’t sell products. Rather, the company works with other brands to help them drive sales and maximize their revenue on Amazon.

“Much like a brand might outsource PR to a PR firm, brands can outsource their Amazon presence to Amify,” Amify CEO and founder Ethan McAfee said in an email. “We can usually do it a lot better and a lot cheaper than a brand can do it internally. A few brands we work with include Fender Guitars and Pacers Running.”

Now with Amazon setting up its new HQ2 in Arlington, Amify has uprooted from its Alexandria headquarters and relocated closer to the company it is intrinsically tied to.

McAfee said Crystal City has historically been viewed as a “boring concrete jungle filled with government agencies and contractors,” but that Amazon’s move will help to change that.

“We moved there to be ahead of the curve,” McAfee said. “In a few short years, the number of fun and modern restaurants and bars will increase and make National Landing” — the name for the combined Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods along the Blue and Yellow lines — “a much more attractive place to have an office.”

McAfee said the two Metro lines, airport, VRE and highway access also make Crystal City an attractive spot for Amify. It doesn’t hurt that McAfee said the largest pool of talent for people with Amazon knowledge will be centered around the new headquarters. Like a remora fish swimming alongside a shark, it’s a symbiotic relationship that can hopefully keep Amify well-fed on business in Amazon’s waters.

“Wherever Amazon goes, it’s going to generate some sort of regional brain trust or community that somehow relates to its business,” said McAfee. “We want to be a part of that brain trust. We want to be around smart people who work or who have worked for Amazon, and are passionate about selling online and advancing the experience of sellers on the platform. It’s an excellent environment to be in if you’re a business like ours.”

Things have been going well recently. McAfee said Amazon’s reported decision to retire a large number of its first-party seller relationships — ditching some small brands that sell their own products to Amazon via purchase order, in favor of third-party marketplace sellers that stock and sell goods via Amazon’s platform — has left some of those brands reeling and trying to reclaim their Amazon presence.

But like the remora fish, McAfee said sometimes Amify can very much be at the whims of the larger beast.

“Much like Walmart, Amazon is a very large retailer and can throw around its weight,” McAfee said. “It certainly makes sellers’ lives more difficult, but at the same time, no other platform is going to provide sellers with the same exposure or access to consumers as Amazon.”

“Given control of the largest online marketplace in the world, it’s conceivable one might tip the scales in their favor,” McAfee continued. “This is not to give Amazon a pass, it’s just to say that this is something we’ve anticipated and therefore can respond to in the context of how it impacts our customers.”

Despite that uncertainty, McAfee said relocating closer to HQ2 should help put the company on more stable ground.

“Being closer to Amazon will be an opportunity for us to grow our company by solidifying our place as Amazon’s top brand partner and attract new talent by being one of the first companies on the ground of this growing tech hub,” he said.

Photos via Amify/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

There is no actual karate on the grounds of Coding Dojo, but the program does hope to help coders learn to chop through digital obstacles.

Coding Dojo is a boot camp for teaching coding with locations set up across the country. Bobby Bethea, Program Success Manager for Coding Dojo, said its new D.C. area location at Eastern Foundry coworking space (1100 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn is a relocation of an original location in Tysons.

“Arlington has always been on our radar,” Bethea said. “The idea to relocate the campus to Arlington was determined after a former student, now a staff member, developed an API which pulled the zip codes from existing applications submitted to Coding Dojo. Once pulled, the zip codes were organized to display a heat map.”

Bethea said the heat map showed that most of the applications were coming from Arlington, so when the lease expired, the school moved closer to the students.

Bethea also said the announcement of Amazon’s move to Arlington also played a role in the move; opening up a new market for Coding Dojo alumni.

“It did factor into our decision to move to Arlington because at the end of the day, our ability to help graduates find jobs is the most important aspect of our business,” Bethea said.

The Arlington location, like the others, teaches Python, MEAN, and C#/.NET. Bethea said the program is designed to be beginner-friendly and to fit with developers of various experience levels.

The 14-week program costs $13,495, though the company offers various payment plans, financing, and scholarships.

“Our dynamic curriculum was first developed in 2008 as an internal training program for small software engineering teams — the first in the industry,” Bethea said. “Ever since, we’ve constantly refined the curriculum and have trained thousands of students to either become developers or refine their skill sets. Today, we provide students with a veteran curriculum, that is proven to work as the most effective approach to training both experienced developers and students new to coding.”

Photo via Facebook/Coding Dojo

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 10:45) Ostendio wants to make it easier for users to see how much more — or less — secure they are compared to their peers.

The growing, Rosslyn-based cybersecurity startup has made some big changes over the last year and is making a push to make security auditing easier for smaller companies.

“We have just launched a major initiative called My VCM CrossWalk,” Miranda Elliott, a spokeswoman for Ostendio, said in an email. “It gives customers an easy way to showcase to an auditor that they are compliant to security regulations. More recently we launched a new web site to showcase our business and provide information to customers who are navigating a security program.”

Elliott said the program is aimed at managing risks for small and mid-size organizations who need to demonstrate compliance to security standards. The program is aimed at making it easy for a company to showcase their security ratings or find the help they need to get on track.

“We are just getting ready to enhance MyVCM with the launch of two new programs,” said Elliott. “One called Vendor Connect, which will allow an organization to push security assessment requirements to any of their vendors, and the other is called Auditor Connect, which will allow a third-party auditor to complete the audit from completely within the MyVCM platform.”

“Both… programs are an extension of our recently launched MyVCM CrossWalk Assessment,” Elliott added. “They make security audits more straight-forward and help our customers save time and money.”

The company also recently moved to a new location in Rosslyn. Elliott said being in Arlington offers the company a competitive advantage

“At the beginning of July we moved to a larger office in Arlington Tower to fit our growing team,” said Elliott. “We chose to stay in Arlington because our organization has grown around this area and we have been able to recruit a skilled, diverse team from the Greater D.C. area here. Our experience is that Rosslyn-Arlington gives us access to a diverse talent pool and is an excellent location for our team in terms of transit options and entertainment outside of work.”

If you’re in the area and interested in a job, Elliott said the company is currently looking for a data product manager.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Mechaniku is built on a simple frustration: no one likes waiting for their car to get worked on. So Mechaniku will work with users to have a mechanic sent out to change their oil.

The company is based along Columbia Pike, where co-founders Jesse Tyler and Clifton Hartsuff live.

“In a society fast becoming overtaken by technology I am shocked this is not already a common service provided in every city,” Tyler said. “We live in a world of convenience and I believe people will pay for this service because it ultimately makes lives easier. It takes a time-consuming and aggravating practice and simplifies it.”

The company currently only has one service: a full synthetic oil change in 30 minutes for $100. It’s a little pricey as far as oil changes go, which average a little under $50. But Tyler said the convenience is part of the cost.

“It’s about the convenience of having someone come to your home,” Tyler said. “We did one for a guy here on Columbia Pike… he said ‘I’ll pay $150 if it means I don’t have to get out of my pajamas and go sit in a line on Sunday morning.'”

Tyler said half of the $100 goes to the mechanic, while the other half goes to the company. The goal, Tyler said, is to connect qualified mechanics with freelance jobs to help make some money on the side.

In the future, Tyler said the company could expand to tire rotation and other light car maintenance jobs, but he’s in no rush to grow.

“I think several of the groups on the market with a similar model have made the mistake of trying to do everything instead of focusing on doing a service well and what they end up doing by trying to do everything is not doing a very good job of anything,” Tyler said. “We seek to be the best at offering on demand oil changes to our customers with the ultimate goal of providing excellent service and giving them time back.”

Tyler said the pricing and types of oil changes could also change over time as the company continues to refine its business model. The company’s app is currently available on Android and Tyler said the company is working to get it onto the Apple App Store on iOS.

“My father always told me not to reinvent the wheel,” said Tyler. “So we’ve taken an existing business and improved on it.”

Image via Mechaniku

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fueled by a recent investment, Courthouse-based startup DivvyCloud unveiled a new suite of features to help identify potential cybersecurity weak spots at a glance

The most high profile of the new features is a new “heat map” scorecard to help companies visualize where their cybersecurity defenses are strongest and where they are most vulnerable.

According to a blog post:

This new feature delivers a visual representation of risk aligned with regulatory standards, industry standards, or your own corporate standards; through an interactive heat map.

With fast paced changes in infrastructure, and the need to have flexibility for deployments into cloud platforms, it has become increasingly challenging to remaining compliant to industry standards. DivvyCloud’s Compliance Scorecard helps you audit compliance and identify risks in your cloud environment in a simple, transparent way.

The accounts are listed on the y-axis, while insights — specific behaviors, conditions or characteristics of cybersecurity — are listed along the x-axis. Accounts with less than 85 percent compliance to security standards are listed in red.

In the sample scorecard above, “Bob” has stale Application Program Interface credentials — coding that allows communication between two applications — meaning Bob has access to a program but his credentials to do so may be out of date.

The feature is designed to assist teams, like auditors or security management, in identifying areas where there are potential gaps in cybersecurity coverage. The scorecard can also recommend guidance for potential problems and direct the viewer to the relevant resources.

Other improvements include a new threat detection system that utilizes machine learning and anomaly detection technologies. DivvyCloud listed cryptocurrency mining, credential compromise behavior, and calls from known malicious IPs as potential threats the technology helps to identify.

DivvyCloud recently announced that it had achieved $19 million in funding in a recent growth round, bringing the total capital raised to $29 million.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Whether you’ve given up on playing the guitar or just want to try something new, Crystal City-based startup Fret Zealot wants you to give the ukulele a try.

Fret Zealot is a system of LED lights linked with an app to show a new guitar player where to place their fingers to play a song. The business launched six years ago and Fret Zealot is now available in over 600 stores, according to CEO Shaun Masavage.

After the success of the company’s fret zone guitar device and app, Masavage said the company started looking at other instruments on which to apply its technology.

Ukuleles are undergoing something of a revival, with the ukulele market experiencing 10-20 percent growth in recent years. According to Masavage, the company has received a lot of requests to develop a version of Fret Zealot for the ukulele.

“The ukulele is pretty much easier to play, but still has the same barriers to entry,” Masavage said. “If they get our system, whether you’re experienced or a new player, there’s something for everybody. You can take this instrument with a fret zone on it, and it will show you how to play from day one and play in a way that will keep you interested.”

There was just one problem: no one working at Fret Zealot knew how to play a ukulele. Fortunately, they knew where they could acquire technology to teach them how to play the instrument.

“None of us had learned ukulele, we were learning cords as we went,” Masavage said. “We literally used our own technology to teach us how to play. [We would play] ‘Let it Be’ by The Beatles, which is just four chords. You can’t help but smile while playing it.”

Masavage said his goal is to have the app and the fret zone device for ukuleles ready to go in late August or September. The company is currently a little under $400 short of its $20,000 goal in Kickstarter. The full price of Fret Zealot for the ukulele will be $139.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Updated 3:35 p.m. — Ballston-based ThreatConnect — a cybersecurity company helping other companies fend off hackers — is planning to ramp up its operations thanks to an investment from Providence Strategic Growth (PSG).

ThreatConnect specializes in cybersecurity “intelligence,” where the information on incoming threats is collected across member organizations and spread across the network, so information gained from an attack on one company can be used to defend the others.

The company started in Shirlington but has since moved to its current headquarters in Ballston. But while ThreatConnect’s location may have changed, CEO and Co-Founder Adam Vincent said its core strategy has not.

“We have had the same vision since we released the first version of the ThreatConnect Platform in 2013,” Vincent said in an email. “We were a step ahead of the market then, and I feel we are still in front of the market today. Our vision is, and was, to improve decision-making in cyber — giving the business the ability to make smarter, faster decisions and act on them quickly — all without adding additional personnel.”

Even though the mission hasn’t changed, the client base has expanded.

“While in the beginning, we were an obvious choice for large enterprises, we see more mid-size companies choosing ThreatConnect,” Vincent said. “We are seeing more verticals — for example, healthcare, utilities — in addition to all the financial and retail companies we have served for years. Given the current security climate, all organizations are realizing that a security program is not a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘need to have’ in order to grow their own business.”

The exact amount of the investment isn’t being disclosed — a common trend among recent investments — but Vincent said PSG is fully committed to the company’s strategic growth.

“We chose them as a strategic partner, not just another investor, because we know their support will be ongoing,” Vincent said. “PSG appreciates our value proposition — to change how businesses manage their security — which was a driver for them investing.”

After the investment, Vincent said ThreatConnect will begin accelerating its current strategy. In a blog post, the company said it will be making new investments in data sources to provide more information for operational and tactical decision making.

But as ThreatConnect grows, it has no plans to leave Arlington.

“We think Arlington is a great place to work, whether in cybersecurity or another vertical,” Vincent said. “It is close and very accessible to D.C., but not too close. And, though our business is worldwide, we choose to have our headquarters in Arlington. It’s our home. It seems like a great central location for most of the staff that comes into the office. The immediate area around the office has grown and changed a great deal in just the short time we have been here — and everyone appreciates the new food/drink options that have recently opened or are about to open.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Three young, tech-focused startups in Arlington were among 41 projects across the state awarded $2.51 million in funding.

The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards, announced by Gov. Ralph Northam on June 6, included grant funding for Fend Incorporated — a Startup Monday frequent guest — NOVI LLC and SeeHear LLC.

The CRCF is run through the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a non-profit corporation funded in part through the state to promote technological development in Virginia.

Fend Incorporated adds a system with a physical beam-link used to transfer data in otherwise digital systems, making them less prone to hacking. The company was awarded $50,000.

NOVI LLC develops autonomous, intelligent satellites and was awarded $48,700.

SeeHear LLC is a corporation that commercializes earlier government research into web-based speech programs for adults with hearing loss. The company was awarded $50,000.

According to a spokesperson for CIT, proposals undergo a multi-stage review process, including assessments by subject matter experts and evaluation by the CIT Board of Directors.

“Virginia is recognized as one of the most innovative states in the nation, and we know that identifying and supporting Virginia innovators at critical early stages through state-funded programs like CRCF is key to maintaining and expanding our leadership role,” Northam said in a press release. “The Commonwealth will continue to deliver programs that facilitate bringing pioneering technologies and ideas to market and create a culture where entrepreneurs will thrive.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Rosslyn-based tech startup Phone2Action — which aims to turn citizens into advocates — announced on May 22 that new funding will mean a global expansion.

The company received a “strategic investment” from Frontier Capital, a private equity investor, according to a press release. But neither representatives of Frontier Capital nor Phone2Action would specify how much money was included in the investment.

“Frontier Capital and Phone2Action are not disclosing the amount of the investment,” said Kristin Steele, a spokesperson for Frontier Capital, “but want to reiterate what the press release said around it being a strategic investment to help fuel future growth for Phone2Action.”

The company bills itself as a “digital grassroots platform,” helping organizations or businesses rally supporters and encouraging them to contact state or local officials. New developments at the company within the last year include email broadcasting features and an advocacy chatbot.

Ximena Hartsock, co-founder of Phone2Action, said the company is looking into expanding the range of products it offers and its markets.

“No changes on staffing at Phone2Action,” said Hartsock, “and we are looking [to use] the support we receive from Frontier to accelerate our growth.”

Partners for the company include Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s, using Phone2Action for a variety of environmental and social advocacy campaigns.

According to the press release, the investment will be used to expand the global outreach of the program and to look into the acquisition of other complementary technologies. The release also notes that the future of grassroots advocacy and public affairs will be reliant on adapting to new technologies like machine learning.

Photo via Phone2Action

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Tinkering with the virtual structure of a company can be hazardous, so instead, Ballston-based startup HyperQube will make a digital clone of a company and then subject it to every horrible cyberattack known to man.

It’s the Portrait of Dorian Gray for the digital age.

“Being able to rapidly clone entire infrastructure, including the networking, allows enterprises to test in ways that used to be too expensive,” Craig Stevenson, founder and CEO, told ARLnow. “Before HyperQube, probing an enterprise’s defenses was costly and dangerous, since you are probing real systems which can’t be taken offline. Now, you could spin up hundreds of exact copies of an enterprise’s defenses and probe them both risk-free and simultaneously, saving massive amounts of effort and eliminating the risk of taking a production system offline.”

HyperQube describes the virtual environment as “alternate realities” that allow users to test, play and break to their hearts’ desire.

The ability to clone digital structures isn’t new, but Stevenson said HyperQube allows the clones to be built and modified quickly.

Various products focus on different scales and targets, like Hyperskill — which uses the cloning method to allow instructors and students to tinker with real systems without potential consequences.

The startup launched in January 2018 after participating in the local cybersecurity accelerator Mach37.

HyperQube ran an event last year where they invited hackers to come participate in a digital competition where, once a platform was shut down, the hackers wrote out detailed explanations of their exploits and offered suggestions on how to fix them.

The company recently signed partnerships with the National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Cisco and other groups. Stevenson said more partnerships were on their way soon, but couldn’t announce any further details. HyperQube also raised $500,000 in seed funding, which is going toward sales, development and new hires.

Stevenson said Arlington has been a great place to run a cyber startup.

“For us, being within 40 minutes of a customer in D.C. or our data center in Ashburn, makes Arlington ideal,” said Stevenson.

Photo via HyperQube

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

In a shocking playoff game, Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard won the series against the 76ers with a buzzer-beating three-point shot.

The tense moment of the ball bouncing precariously around the rim of the basket kept viewers glued to their screens and sharing the moment across social media.

Within moments, Ballston-based company BreakingT was turning it into a t-shirt.

BreakingT turns popular sports moments into authorized fan paraphernalia produced with a rapid turnaround, cofounder and CEO Alex Welsh said.

“The sports fan apparel market is a massive market,” Welsh said. “You can look it up, it’s between $25-$30 billion globally. It’s a global industry. We have found with our data-driven, real-time approach that there’s absolutely a demand.”

The company recently celebrated its five-year anniversary and Welsh has ambitions to keep growing. The company raised $400,000 in angel investments in 2017 and hired its first full-time employee. Now, Welsh said his goal is to raise $2 million to expand licensing and marketing.

“One of our biggest corporate objectives is to make our service and company indispensable,” Welsh said. “We have deals now with 30 pro sports teams. They see the value in what we do — the social value in these big moments.”

Beyond just tracking trending sports moments on social media, the company also has a revenue-sharing agreement with SB Nation — a blogging network owned by D.C.-based Vox Media — where team blogs promote those viral moments and BreakingT’s associated paraphernalia.

Welsh said the NBA playoffs have been a big focus lately. The group has a license from the NBA Players Association that allows them to make official merchandise.

“We’re looking for the very specific moments in these games and what the fans are talking about,” Welsh said. “When he shot the ball at the buzzard, the basketball bounced four times on the rim before it went in. Everybody was holding their breath. It was a massive moment for Toronto fans.”

Welsh said the company’s proximity to D.C. let it build a relationship with the Washington Nationals, which Welsh credits for helping to put BreakingT on the map. From there, the company was able to expand into partnerships in other locations and sports, like a partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Welsh said one of his favorite sports moments captured on BreakingT apparel was when a team leaned into being called a “bunch of jerks.”

“A sports broadcaster called the [Carolina] Hurricanes players a bunch of jerks because they started doing choreographed celebrations on the ice,” Welsh said. “It was breaking with the tradition of hockey, but fans loved it. Our social data monitors were going off about this moment. The team leaned into that, and that’s been one of our biggest hits of all time. We sold over 20,000 units of that one shirt.”

Photo via Facebook

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